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Aphria co-founder and chief executive leave top roles on cannabis company

Aphria co-founder and chief executive leave top roles on cannabis company
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LEAMINGTON, Ont. -- Marijuana producer Aphria Inc. announced Friday that chief executive Vic Neufeld and co-founder Cole Cacciavillani will be leaving their executive roles at the company, but will remain on the board.

"Thanks to their vision, energy and passion, Aphria has become a global player in an industry that didn t even exist five years ago," Aphria chairman Irwin Simon said in statement.

"I look forward to working with them to further build Aphria s leadership team and continue driving long-term value for our patients, customers and employees into the future."

Neufeld said he and Cacciavillani will begin the transition process immediately and step down from their executive positions "at the appropriate time."

Aphria faced allegations in December by short-sellers questioning the company s acquisitions in Colombia, Argentina and Jamaica. Shares in the company plunged in the wake of the report by Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Research.

The company has denied the report, but established a special committee of independent directors to review the deals.

Aphria also received a hostile takeover offer late last year from Ohio-based Xanthic Biopharma Inc., which does business as Green Growth Brands, that it rejected as being too low.

The change in the executive suite came as Aphria reported revenue totalled $21.7 million in what was its second quarter as Canada s legal recreational market began. The total was up from $8.5 million a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $37.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Aphria earned a profit of $54.8 million or 22 cents per share for its quarter ended Nov. 30 compared with a profit of $6.5 million or five cents per share for the same period last year.

The company attributed the increase in profit to gains on its long-term investment portfolio, primarily divestitures of positions in Hiku Brands and Liberty Health Sciences.
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